18-year-old Shanika patiently waits for a mentor - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

18-year-old Shanika patiently waits for a mentor

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - She's graduating high school and is ready to take on the world. Shanika says she's grateful to her foster mom for her care and support, and to her court appointed special advocate, but she would also love a mentor.

If you've always wanted to help a foster child, perhaps mentoring one, could be the perfect fit.

“I always want somebody I can go to if I ever need to talk or anything,” said Shanika.

Shanika has been in the foster care system nearly her entire life, which has been filled with plenty of ups and downs. But now that she has turned 18 and is legally an adult, she is excited about her future.

“I'm going to be in college in a month or so,” said added.

But with no forever family to turn to for guidance, what Shanika would really like, is a woman mentor.

“You can never have too much support I don't think,” Shanika continued.

Shanika needs some direction, as she gears up to start life out on her own.

She thought, when she turned 18, she would no longer be eligible to have a mentor, but Shanika worked hard to be accepted into the Extended Foster Care Program, designed to give foster youth a smoother road to success, with continued support from the county until age 21.

Which means, she still has time, to be matched with a mentor.

“I want somebody that, not just a mentor, but more of like a friend,” Shanika added.

Shanika would like some advice and perspective, as she begins community college and chases her dreams.

“Well I'm going to do my core classes, then I want to transfer to UCLA and major in theater and I model now and I'm trying to get into music videos and my backup plan would be a lawyer,” Shanika explained.

She's is a self-starter, graduating high school early and working at an internet café and being promoted to assistant manager.

Shanika's storybook is filled with chapters that no child should ever have to tell.

“Take a little girl, starting off like four, getting abused and really mistreated, moving to different foster homes, going to Polinsky, and just never finding that forever home,” Shanika said.

But she has overcome all adversity and is now an independent and positive young woman. Reflecting on her life so far, Shanika is proud of the person she's become:

“I grew up, and now that I'm here. I look at myself every day and I'm like dang, I was that girl who got bullied and mistreated and now I still can smile, it's weird, to this day, I can still smile. I mean, I'm not perfect, I'm human, but I really feel like I came far.”

And she's not done, with the help, she hopes, of a mentor.

At the end of our time together, I did wonder, if a boyfriend was part of her current support network. Shanika didn't hesitate for a moment, in telling me no. And the reason:

“Because right now in my life I'm focused on taking care of me. And I know that I have to get my priorities first, no distractions.”

If you're interested in learning more about San Diego County's Foster Youth Mentor Program, please call 619-767-5222 for more information.

There are about 80 youth on the waiting list - about 30 girls and 50 boys.

CBS News 8 would also like to thank Boomers San Diego for hosting a fun day at the park.

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